Why you should never, ever talk to police

By Robin . . . As a student, I was highly impressed by the manner in which Professor Duane could take a subject as dull and unattractive as civil procedure (civ pro) and, by his sheer energy and command of oratory, turn it into the 1L class nobody would ever forget. It didn’t hurt that he so often began his  lectures–a veritable fusillade of instruction on matters great and small, and certainly always about the law (the man speaks exceedingly fast for the Southern ear)–by strumming his guitar and singing us all a tune.

Professor Duane is one of the more exceptional people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1984. And his contributions to the field of law are likely understated by the biographical information made available by the university. He even has his own wiki page, which is not something that most lawyers (much less, law professors) can ever claim. And, be sure to check out his erudite rehearsal of the various ways the word “certiorari” has been pronounced by supreme court justices over the last few years (this Green Bag submission from 2014 was recently recollected by Dan Epps and Ian Samuel over on 101 First Street at SCOTUSBlog).

In 2012, Professor Duane invited Officer George Bruch of the Virginia Beach Police Department to join him in a sort of panel discussion about how citizens should interact with law enforcement personnel. As you can see for yourself, poor Officer Bruch was left without much to work with after being roasted (in a considerate and respectful way) by Prof. Duane’s preemptive strike on Fifth Amendment grounds.

The video provided here is NOT the original. And it may not remain with us for very long. The original video of the presentation had well over 6 million views by 2016. Now, and as a consequence of a some sort of copyright claim by Prof. Duane (I have no idea what the details are about that), the original video recording has been removed from YouTube. But the information provided is so critically important and compelling (and always timely) that it ought to be shared while it can be.

Professor James Duane of Regent University School of Law provides reasons why citizens should always exercise
their 5th Amendment rights when questioned by government officials.

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Robin Vander Wall

As vice chair of NARSOL, Robin is the managing editor of the Digest, director of development, and provides assistance to the webmaster in keeping our websites running smoothly. He also serves as founder and president of Vivante Espero, NARSOL's 501(c)(3) foundation and legal fund.

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    • #18264 Reply
      I watched this on YouTube long ago

      I saw this on YouTube before being pulled (which I learned of here in this article) and was awestruck by the advice given! Awesome! So much as a traffic stop is something you shouldn’t talk with LEOs during. This needs to be seen by everyone who can watch it!

    • #18430 Reply

      I’m subject to pc290 in California and am therefore prone to be considered a suspect if some crime or occurrence takes place in my neighborhood.

      I was once approached by a pair of detectives, both donning business cards that read “robbery/homicide”. I let then in. One said to me that a 13 yr old girl sitting at a bus stop had been harassed by a motorist driving a yellow car. I responded that I owned just a black Lincoln and white minivan they saw parked in my driveway. One officer responded right off, “that raises a red flag with me because most people would say ‘I didn’t do it'”. My response was that Hollywood uses real-life experiences when making movies and anytime we see a handcuffed suspect scream, “I didn’t do it”….he’s convicted by the end of the show.

      To reinforce my story, I reversed his own, stating that a homeless man had been killed on the property adjacent to the golf course he’d admitted he was at on Saturday. He played along– to maybe reinforce his position–stating that he didn’t do it. “Well see that raises a red flag with me detective because the cashier in the pro shop says you bought orange golf balls and a pack of gum while you were there”.

      The point is easy enough to see and the detectives left. On their way up the hill to their car, I shouted from my porch, “why don’t you take pictures of both my vehicles and show them to the little girl?” His response….”I know how to do my f*cking job”.

      Feeling pretty good about the experience, I called my lawyer and recounted the tale. He wasn’t impressed. In fact he spun it for my benefit by asking: “Mr. Rivera, how do you know they weren’t there investigating the string of child murders that are taking place in the area?” Stunned, I simply replied that the detectives said they were there over the bus stop incident.

      Here’s the lesson. “Mr Rivera, law enforcement is never obligated to tell you the truth. They will say anything to get the information they need”. (He added that if he caught me talking to law enforcement again, he’d keep my retainer and drop me like a hot rock.

      Incidentally, a month later I got caught up in a “my space ” dating scam and found myself sitting in a little room at the police department. After 3 long hours, a sex crimes investigator came in to talk. “Unless my lawyer is behind you or you have a deck of cards, this is going to be a really short conversation”.

      He responded that that was my right and he left. The charges were dropped 3 days later. Had I spoken to him I’m confident I’d be serving a long sentence for rape….or something.

      Lesson learned. Don’t talk to cops! (unless you have them under restraints and need their blood type and family medical history so you can effectively market the parts in their meat sack).

    • #18466 Reply
      Don Kellough

      I am wondering if I HAVE to answer questions from authorities since I am registered? I have been pulled over and my car gone through, and reminded that I am listed as a predator. My crime was viewing child porn, I never bought, sold, downloaded, saved, traded, joined, underage porn, and there was certainly never anything hands on. But I’m still listed as a predator. So I worry about what may happen if I don’t answer any questions!

      • #19178 Reply
        Jonny everyman

        No you do not. All you have to do is identify yourself and then refer police to your lawyer. The exception is if you are still on probation

    • #18912 Reply

      What is so great about a country who allows its law enforcement to lie to get a confession?
      Even if the suspect IS guilty, how can we be so proud of not being a third world country or even a fairly decent European country where the cops kick you around a bit first? Seems we abuse people by lying to them rather than physically harming them. To me, it’s the same thing, just done differently.
      This man has basically said, in summary; You’re guilty until proven innocent. And contrary to what he said about the minds of the jury, we’re guilty until proven innocent the moment the handcuffs are put on us.

      These type of “interrogations” have gotten a lot of innocent people convicted and spent years of their lives in prison before the days of the Innocence Project. What a damn shame. What’s so proud of by being an American? Smh.

      • #19177 Reply
        Jonny everyman

        The point is you were probably found guilty because you told police it was consensual or you took a plea deal.

        If you don’t talk to police it gets really hard for them to convict you. Any good defense attorney can pick apart a witness statement

    • #19125 Reply
      In Search of Liberty

      I would like to ask professor Duane a few of questions if I may. In Smith v Doe 538 US 100 (2003) SCOTUS held sex offender registration (SO) to be “civil” (which in my opinion was dubious and disingenuous) in nature. I am no lawyer but it would seem to me that even if SO registration were civil in nature, 1) there is such a thing as “Rules Civil Procedures” that govern the application of civil penalties—correct? 2) If so, can the state apply these so called civil penalties without them conforming to the Rules of Civil Procedure? or 3) Can they (the state) just apply these so-called civil penalties to people willy nilly? If I could have Professor Duane offer his insight on these questions I would appreciate it very much.

      • #25874 Reply
        Robin Vander Wall
        Robin Vander Wall

        The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) are a set of rules governing procedures in a federal court setting. They have nothing to do with penalties. They’re merely the game rules for each side of a case and controversy.

    • #25871 Reply
      George Simmonds

      I agree it is not good to talk to the police but as the guy at the end who is a cop said, if you cooperate you can get a lesser sentence, so I guess you have to decide and quick, do they really have you or not? If they do have you and you know that they have enough on you to put you in jail or prison, maybe it is best to cooperate with them. That is hard to say and I am not an attorney so I can’t really say for sure what one should do, but I would say talk to your attorney first before talking to the cops, they can help to present things in the best light.

      • #25873 Reply
        Robin Vander Wall
        Robin Vander Wall

        Professor Duane is a law professor and licensed attorney who practiced criminal defense law in New York for several years before becoming a professor. So, you’re already getting an attorney’s advice. Never talk to the cops. Period. That’s the advice any qualified attorney is going to give.

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